28 Jul 2023, 13:10
Carolina Kyllmann

Germany should halve approval times for grid expansion – econ minister

ARD / Clean Energy Wire

Germany should cut the time it takes to approve planned transmission and distribution grid expansions by half, economy minister Robert Habeck said in a report by public broadcaster ARD. “We must ensure more speed in the expansion of the grid,” the Green party politician said at a ceremonial launch event for the major transmission line SuedLink. The high-voltage power line will enable the direct transmission of electricity produced in the country’s windy north for use at industrial centres further south. SuedLink has been hailed as a key project of Germany’s energy transition that is essential for decommissioning fossil power generation capacity in southern Germany. The government has simplified legal requirements and accelerated procedures to increase grid expansion speed, giving projects ‘overriding public interest’ to make their construction easier. Still, only less than 20 kilometres of the 700-kilometre long SuedLink have been approved so far, ARD reports. “Over the next two decades we will need thousands of kilometres of additional electricity grids. These must be planned, approved and built as quickly as possible,” Habeck said.

Germany’s energy transition hinges on unblocking the power grid. The shift from fossil fuels will only succeed if the infrastructure exists to support a very different kind of energy system based on scattered renewable power installations. To date, the country's electricity grid has not been  able to make full use of all the renewable power it generates and even needs to curtail feed-in by renewables at times to avoid grid overload. Meanwhile, the construction of new power lines has been plagued by public resistance. Germany’s Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) is set to substantially increase the number of permits to build the planned electricity transmission lines needed for the shift to a climate-neutral energy system from 2024. SuedLink is scheduled go into operation in 2028, with construction of the first line sections starting this year.

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